You know how I keep saying that Sarah Mayberry is one of my favorite writers and one of the best current Contemporary Romance authors out there? Well, I’m having a fangirl moment today because she’s with us talking about her new book, self-publishing, and lots of other things. I’ll leave you with her, treat her well so she comes back soon!
Welcome to Romance Around the Corner, Sarah!
Q. For all our readers who may not be familiar with your books, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
SM: I write for Harlequin, although I have just self-published my first book, also. I started writing for Blaze, which are fun, sexy, playful books, then moved on to Super Romance, which are a bit more realistic and heartfelt - but also, pretty sexy, too, hopefully. I am really into exploring people and why they do things and my heroes and heroines are always flawed but they also have the best intentions. Like most of us, they’re just trying to muddle their way through life. The bedroom door is never closed in my books, and I love writing banter and back and forth, a side-effect from my “other” job as a script writer.
Q. What do you think is the main appeal of Contemporary Romance? Have you ever considered writing a different genre?
SM: Contemporary Romance comes in many forms, even though it’s all set in the present day. There’s the romantic fantasy stuff with fast cars and billionaires, there’s more heartfelt stuff, etc, etc. I tend to go for the more heartfelt stuff, even if it does have a dash of rich guys and fast cars (think Susan Elizabeth Phillips) and I think the appeal there is commonality of experience - it could be me or a friend that this is happening to. It’s very relatable, and often very moving or funny to see your own life and concerns reflected in a novel. It makes you feel less alone, and sometimes it helps you understand yourself a little better, or someone that you know. Historical romance works for me, also, for the opposite reason - it’s pure escapism. But I love both genres, and if I ever tried to break out of contemporary it would be to try my hand at Historical. But I am not sure that my voice would be very suited to period fiction.
Q. I would like to know more about your writing process. What comes first, the characters or the story? Where do you get your ideas from? Is there a particular trope that you hate and would never use?
SM: I think I usually start with a story idea, sometimes just a scene. With The Best Laid Plans (which I learned just this week is a finalist in the Romantic Book of the Year Awards down here in Australia!), my story brain got busy when I read an ad in the local newspaper from a women seeking a sperm donor. I started thinking about who this woman was and what would drive her to this decision, and the rest of the story unfolded for me. I’m working on ideas for some more self published books at the moment, and I decided that one of them would be a reunion story. So, sometimes, taking a well-established trope and doing my interpretation of it also gets me started. But once I have the basic premise, it always come down to character. Who are these people, what are they afraid of? What do they want? How will they push each other’s buttons? My plots always unfold from character, because I want to challenge my characters with their fears and preconceptions, and usually that leads to lots of emotion and conflict and forces them into corners. In terms of tropes that I am not a big fan of, the secret baby is one that I often have trouble with. Denying the father the right to know he is a father and to know his child and participate in his/her life always makes me so angry, I have trouble forgiving the heroine. Other than that, I am pretty open, I think. If something gets my story brain revved, then I’m there!
Q. All your books are Category Romances, and the Super Romance line is as close to a single title as it gets, but have you ever considered writing a single title?
SM: I have, and I did. It’s languishing in my bottom drawer because it needs a lot more work before it can see the light of day. It’s called Before and After and is about a woman who hits thirty and realises that she’s somehow allowed herself to become morbidly obese. How did that happen while I wasn’t looking, she wonders? The story chronicles her battle to lose weight, the issues she has to deal with within herself and the men she gets involved with. It needs quite a bit of work, particularly because I wrote it in first person and now I want to shift it into third. I have a couple of other ideas, too. It’s more about finding the time to write them than anything else!
Q. In your books, you have dealt with different situations that may not be easy to write and/or read, but that are real and touching. Having lived with a person who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, I must say that I was personally invested and touched by All They Need, and how you portrayed the consequences that such a terrible disease has not only on the person suffering it, but also on the immediate family. I was wondering what type of research was involved in the creation of that book, and if it was hard for you to find a balance within the story as to not make it overly dramatic and sappy, especially considering that it also deals with domestic abuse. I was very touched by it but not once found it melodramatic.
SM: Aww, thanks. I’m pleased it resonated with you, especially since it touched on something you’ve personally experienced. I have a friend whose father-in-law has Alzheimer’s, and I have heard a few of her stories. I did a lot of reading on-line. I found a wonderful on-line diary written by a woman with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s (the researcher I spoke to said they prefer this term to Early Onset, even though it got changed in the book), and her descriptions of her life and experiences gave me great insight and allowed me to imagine how things might play out for Flynn’s parents. Once I had the book partly written and knew where I wanted to go with things, I spoke to someone at the Alzheimer’s Institute here in Australia and she confirmed that all my scenarios were believable and possible, and gave me some ideas for later scenes. She told me, for example, that an Alzheimer’s patient would probably panic and be helpless in an emergency situation, which gave me great grist for when Flynn’s mother burns herself.
As for the melodrama thing...I think keeping things small and human makes them more poignant. Sometimes we make grand, sweeping statements in real life, but more often than not, that moment is ruined by the dog farting or the baby throwing up. I think having real life intrude makes those moments more believable, and therefore more touching. Another thing I always try to do is to let my characters hang on to their pride, but not to the detriment of their happiness. Balancing between those two things can be tough for anyone, but it often makes for nice scenes, especially when things are getting emotional.
Q. Let’s talk about your new book, Her Best Worst Mistake, and your road to self-publishing. Why did you decide to self-publish this story? What are the differences and similarities between regular publishing and self-pub?
SM: I decided to self-publish because I felt as though I owed it to myself to give it a try. We’ve all heard the amazing success stories. It would be naive to imagine that anyone who self-pubs is going to trip over ingots of gold the moment we put a book out there, but it would be great to find a way to make enough from my books to enable me not be strapped to the computer, day-in, day-out. At the moment, I pretty much write every second of the day, and having the luxury to think and dream a bit is so vital to good writing, I think. I would love to be able to find a balance between self-pubbing and my Harlequin work which allowed me to have a little breathing room to imagine new projects and, sometimes, make mistakes and then fix them without having a deadline breathing down my neck.
In terms of the differences and similarities, the writing process is exactly the same. When I’m finished, however, I don’t have my editor to rely on to diagnose problem areas and suggest fix ups. That’s pretty scary, having worked with her on something like 26 books now. She’s incredibly talented, and not having her input makes me feel a little sweaty. This time around, I relied on the help of a friend and some beta readers, who are all smart, talented ladies, to get me through. The moment where I decided I had done everything I needed to do and hit the send button to send it off to the formatters was a nerve-wracking one, and I felt a little naked and exposed. But also excited! I am not sure what I will do with future efforts. People with strong story chops, in my opinion, don’t grow on trees. But I will be searching! As for the more technical aspects of it, controlling the back cover blurb and cover etc was good fun, and a pleasure more than a pain for me. I have a background in magazine publishing, so I liked working with the cover artist to get the cover to where I wanted it. For the technical side of it, I had the incredibly generous and wonderful Marie Force holding my hand via her E-book Formatting Fairies service. They were brilliant and totally got me over the line in terms of uploading stuff to the various vendors.
Q. What else can you tell us about Her Best Worst Mistake?
The story itself was so much fun to write, because Violet and Martin are convinced they dislike each other. Finding a balance between their animosity and their preoccupation with each other was a hoot, and then watching them explode once they worked out what all that animosity was really about was even more fun.
Q. I see that you have two more books set to come out this year: Within Reach and Suddenly You. Can you give us a little preview? Maybe tell us what they are about?
|This is her newest cover!|
Thanks for sharing it with us.
Suddenly You is a sequel, of sorts, to All They Need, and tells Mel’s brother, Harry’s, story. He’s big and tough, with tribal tattoos and muscles on his muscles. He works as a mechanic and lives the life of a confirmed bachelor - partying on the weekends, no strings, enjoying hot chicks when they come his way, but avoiding any whiff of commitment. Pippa, the heroine, was once going out with Harry’s best mate. She got pregnant to him, however, and the relationship ended when the friend washed his hands of Pippa. When the book begins, Harry stops to help Pippa out when her car breaks down on the side of the road. Harry has always liked her, and when he learns that his mate has refused to step up and support her and her child, he feels honor bound to try to do something about the situation. The only problem is that mixed in with his good intentions is a whole lot of lust. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination!
Q. And finally, what’s your favorite romance novel?
SM: It’s impossible to choose one. I have a handful that all occupy top position equally - Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Philips, See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson, Just One Of The Guys by Kristan Hiiggins, and both Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions, I hope you visit us again soon.
You can find Sarah in the following places:
To purchase Her Worst Best Mistake visit:
Sarah has kindly offered 3 copies of Her Best Worst Mistake to give away among our readers. For a chance to win leave a comment for Sarah, or tell us why you like Contemporary Romance.
- Each winner gets one (1) out of three (3) e-copies of Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry
- Contest open internationally.
- Ends on 05/13/12
- Comments must include an email address.
- Winners will be announced here and through email and will have 72 hours to respond.
- For more details visit our Giveaway Policy.